UW College of Law Students Second in National Client Counseling Competition

April 4, 2012
Two people smiling
Kyle Ridgeway and Marci Crank of Casper led the University of Wyoming to second place in the American Bar Association's recent Student Client Counseling national championship. (UW Photo)

University of Wyoming College of Law students Marci Crank and Kyle Ridgeway, both of Casper, came within one point of winning the American Bar Association's (AB) recent Student Client Counseling national championship held at North Carolina Central University Law School in Durham, N.C.

The UW students earned the opportunity to compete in the national contest after taking first place in the ABA's regional client counseling competition in Seattle, Wash. At nationals, they finished in second place behind the University of Nebraska team.

"This is a substantial accomplishment, as the client counseling competition is the largest of the American Bar Association's four national lawyering skills competitions," says College of Law Dean Stephen Easton. He says more than 100 teams competed in the 12 regional events and that there were undoubtedly several hundred, and possibly more than 1,000 teams, that began the nationwide competition.

"We competed against schools from across the nation, including some of the elite top-25 institutions," says Crank, who played on UW's women's soccer team as an undergraduate. "Although I knew it before, this competition reinforced my belief that UW law graduates can not only compete with students from any law school, but can also rise above them."

The client counseling competition encourages students to develop interviewing, planning and analytical skills in the lawyer-client relationship. The competition simulates a law office setting, with the student attorneys acting out the scene before a panel of three judges. This develops a professional working atmosphere that includes explanation of confidentiality and the fee agreement.

Following the interview, student lawyers then explain how they would proceed further in a hypothetical situation. A large part of the competition is based on teamwork and how the two student attorneys work together. The competition emphasizes communication and other interpersonal skills essential to sound representation of clients.

The achievement validates some of the important experiential education opportunities the College of Law provides, Easton says. Ridgeway, who participated in several of those programs, agrees.

"As a first-year law student, I was able to do a mock appellate argument in front of the Wyoming Supreme Court. No other law school in the country grants students unique opportunities like that," he says. "Graduating this year, I feel prepared to litigate any case, go to trial, and handle an appeal against anybody from any school."

Crank and Ridgeway credit their success to the assistance from Easton, Associate Dean Denise Burke, Professors Jerry Parkinson and Demetria Jackson, and their coach, Professor Matt Wilson. The Laramie law firm of Pence and MacMillan LLC provided financial support for students to participate in the competition.

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